Erin | M/V Sea Hawk | Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | 2:00 PM

It was a day to remember in the Salish Sea. We began our trip with no firm reports of whales in the area, but some vague reports of humpback whales very far south of San Juan Island. We were originally going to head in that direction, so we headed west out of Roche Harbor. We were cruising along the west side of San Juan Island when our Captain Erick spotted two large blows in the distance! We had found some humpback whales! We were the only boat on scene with them for the majority of our encounter, which made for a very peaceful viewing. The whales were travelling fairly quickly moving north through Haro Strait. There were two of them. One of them had a very dark fluke, which is the underside of the tail. We saw its tail many times as it went down for dives. The other one eventually showed its fluke as well, which also appeared to be mostly black. The whales were both adults, and they were associated with each other throughout the whole time that we watched them. We got some incredible looks at the whales, and the water was so calm around us that we were able to hear them exhaling. They were also taking 2-3 minute dives, which is extremely short for humpback whales. We were very lucky. It was absolutely phenomenal. We left the whales and headed towards some other popular wildlife areas. 

We went toward Spieden Island and saw a bald eagle perched in one of the madrona trees along the shoreline. It was looking quite regal. Bald eagles can be 3 feet tall and have a 6 foot wingspan! We then went toward the Cactus Islands to search for harbor seals. We didn't see any hauled out on the rocks because it was high tide and they didn't have much space to haul out. However, we saw many harbor seals in the water around the Cactus Islands and in the San Juan Channel near Flattop Island. It seemed as if they were popping up all around us. At Flattop Island, we saw a few harbor seals hauled out on land, and we saw a few hauled out on nearby Gull Rock. There were some harbor porpoises that were coming to the surface to breathe as well. We headed around the west side of Spieden Island and got to see some mouflon sheep roaming along the hillside. They are non-native to the island, and they like to feed on the grass and other vegetation growing on the island. When the harbor came back into view, we were excited about our awesome encounter with the humpback whales, and we all had memories to last for a long time. 

Naturalist Erin